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Am I Romanticizing Japan?


Am I romanticizing Japan? No one’s ever asked me this before, to be honest. Probably because they romanticize the place themselves without even realizing it. But it’s something I think about sometimes. Because whenever I’m not in Japan, I want to go back; and when I’m there, I remember that it’s just a place like any other. The truth is that it’s so easy to look at distant places and cultures and have an idealistic view of them.

So let me just start off by saying no, I don’t.

I know that there are good things about my native land, Canada, too.

The one thing I miss about Ontario when I’m in Tokyo is diversity. I miss seeing lots of people from different backgrounds. It’s how I grew up, it’s what I’m comfortable with.

Also, on a shallower note, there’s an infinite supply of instantly hot water, which is nice in winter. No ice cold breaks during my shower while the machine does god knows what, like I’ve experienced everywhere but North America. I can also say some people like Ontario because it has beautiful nature, but for someone like me who hates bugs, camping and extreme weather (hot or cold) I can’t appreciate it. Another plus is that there’s no wars going on, and there’s a pretty low chance of being affected by a natural disaster.

See? I can look at things objectively.

Quebec City is probably where I would live if I had to pick just one place there. It has a rich history and a unique culture that sets it apart from the rest of the country.

And Alberta is Canada’s Land of Plenty. Nice low taxes. Do you know how nice it is on McDonald’s Dollar Drink Days to have the cashier say, “that’ll be a dollar five,” instead of in Ontario: “Let’s see, with tax, that’ll be…25262725 dollars.”

So each province is very different and it’s impossible to generalize and say “Canada is this or that”, because it’s so enormous. Each province is the size of a country in itself.

And I know Japan’s not perfect either…

It shares a lot of negatives in common with Canada, so it’s not something I think about when comparing them. Like, the aging population, parasite singles and high rates of youth unemployment.

But I still prefer it. It’s not a cultural thing, it’s a lifestyle thing. Or a personal thing. I love cheap and convenient combini and public transport. I love being served smaller portions so it’s easier to control your weight and take care of your health. I love the four seasons, the mild winters. I love how I don’t have to go to specialty stores to find clothes for short people. I love the organization and politeness and orderly fashion there is to everything. I love how everyone is thinking about their neighbor instead of just scrabbling and clawing their way through life thinking only of themselves.

I could go on forever about all the reasons I’m so much happier there. But, whenever people ask, I try to keep it short and sweet: it just suits me.


  • Will you go back to live in Canada soon?
    I’ve never been to Asia yet. Yea. True.

    I understand the yen is abit weaker than Canadian dollar but still things in Japan are expensive enough?

    • You have never been yet? You must come! 🙂 Yes, it’s about 1000 yen to every 11 or 12 Canadian dollars, because both the CAD and yen are not that strong in general right now. And yeah! Certain things are more expensive, like groceries, but for some reason eating out is cheaper than in Canada I find.

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